What's been going on? It's been hectic so that's why I'm looking forward to this break of sorts. I'm also banking on work slowing down a bit over December, or at least I HOPE it slows down. I haven't been able to keep up, and while the powers that be keep telling me I'm a vast improvement over my predecessor, I haven't been able to meet the goals I set for myself.
* Listening to a lot of new music.
Tower Records is going out of business and finally dropped their prices enough to justify buying a bunch of stuff I've wanted for a while. On my rotation for the drive home yesterday: Hem, Kasey Chambers, The New Pornographers "Twin Cinemas" and the soundtrack from The Life Aquatic. I go through phases -- listening to almost nothing and then being obsessed with everything. I also preordered the Sufjan Stevens Christmas album -- I am beyond excited. :-)
* Reading. After reading a lot of fiction, I finally started this book, Appetites by Caroline Knapp. It was recommended by a friend for a book club reading. I was too late for most of the good discussion, but the book is brilliant really -- disturbing, uncomfortable and FAMILIAR. I have about 50 pages left. This gem jumped out at me this morning:
"The years I spent obsessing about weight were also years spent not obsessing about the wider world, not considering alternative visions, not appreciating how deeply and fully this merciless, nagging distress can obscure the larger picture, with all its horrors and injustices. In he aftermath of the terrorist attaks, I was struck by many feelings, but one of the more bitter and lingering was a kind of deep embrrassment of my own complacency: my blindless to the depth of hatred harbored in other parts of the world toward the United States; my ignorance about our role in formenting it; my eminently comfortable remove from the circumstances in which so many others live, the poverty and desperation that drives women to madness and men to homicidal rage. I'll put it this way: In the late 1980s, when American troops pulled out of Afghanistan, leaving legions of Afghanis in the sea of chaos that would give rise to the Taliban, I was worrying about whether my jeans wer too tight. I care about women and their thighs for precisely this reason: because so many women care, and because that care is so devastatingly blinding."
She has a lot to say about consumer culture and the way it commodotizes desire. It reminds me a lot of text that I read in college, but this time I feel like it's speaking to me. And I'm not always liking what it has to say.
* Spending time with YG. We've had a couple of nice weekends together -- low key and low maintenance in preparation for the holiday bustle. Last weekend, he brought the MG over on Friday night and we had Chinese take-out and played Uno. After he dropped her off on Saturday morning at her mom's, we went for a 3.5 mile walk with a treat at Starbucks, before heading up to LLBean for Christmas shopping and to get a Boston-appropriate winter parka for me. And then we saw Borat -- holy shit, did that make me laugh. I literally almost peed my pants in the theatre I was laughing so hard. On Sunday, we walked around Harvard to do more Christmas shopping, had tea at Tea Luxe and then beer and burgers at an Irish place. We discovered a bunch of other restaurants that we want to check out. On Tuesday night, I went over and had dinner with him and the MG, playing more Uno and her new game of choice, balloon volleyball. We volley a ballon back and forth across the living room trying not to let the balloon hit the floor -- you get a point every time it hits and the team who reaches five points first wins. I am quite the balloon volleyball champ. :-) Things are really good. I'm going to miss them this weekend.
* Christmas shopping. It's the most wonderful time of the year. Yeah, whatever. I wanted to get as much done early so I can avoid the crush of humanity that descends on the stores post- Thanksgiving. I'm about halfway through my list, but still need to get something cool and small for YG. We're buying a digital camera so we put a $100 limit on each other for "extras" -- I already have one cool thing picked out, but want something else tangible as well. For everyone else, I'm trying to get them things or "experiences" they'd actually want -- as opposed to getting a thing that I can cross off my list and check off as done. This is harder than it sounds.
I'm also trying to contain my rant about the fact that the holiday "season" now begins, apparently, on November 1. The Christmas decorations and the 24-7 holiday music are already playing. If I thought this made anyone get into the holiday "spirit" any quicker or made us appreciate the meaning of the holidays more, I'd be okay with it (not really, though -- it's ANNOYING). But it just makes us buy more. And more. And more. And I hate that I'm not above it.
* Not working out. Lots of walking, but not working out. I miss it -- I like the gym. Sue me.
* Being sad that this will probably be the last Thanksgiving that fits the same mold of all Thanksgivings past. My grandmother is going to put her house on the market in the spring, so this will be the last one there and I can't honestly remember a time before that. Yesterday would have been my grandfather's birthday so I'm just feeling....sad? blue? in denial? and romantically reminiscing about the past. I'm feeling very conflicted too about holidays going forward -- I have such a strong attachment to the "ways things are supposed to be" and "the ways things always are" regarding the holidays. When I first got married, I hated the idea of having to spend time with anyone else or do things any way different. But now I live 250 miles away, and well, to be perfectly honest, I miss my boyfriend and I miss his kid. We'll figure out someway to work this, but I know that I'm saying good-bye to that way things are supposed to be. That's not always a bad thing, but it is a tiny bit sad.
* Thinking about my gratitude list. As cheesy as it sounds, I do a list every Thanksgiving of things that I am grateful for. I started it about 6 years ago because I always get in my head and am a natural pessimist and think that I have it so bad, when really, I have everything I need. I haven't put much thought into this yet for 2006, but here are some that I can think of right now:
My health -- mental and physical. I'm in good shape and I'm working on my weight and appetite in a healthy way without getting too crazy. Mentally, I'm probably in a much better place than I have been in years, and I'm still working on it. Progress, not perfection.
My family -- Yeah, we got issues. And sometimes, I feel like it's hard to even KNOW the people that you're related to. But I want to know them. And I know they have my back, and if it came down to it, I'd throw myself in front of a bus to protect any one of them.
YG and the MG -- YG has taught me what a functional relationship can look like. I guess I never thought I "deserved" someone like him before, but he's been and is patient with me as I learn that I do. He's kind, smart, funny -- he is all the adjectives. We argue, we annoy each other, he's got quirky habits and so do I, but at the end of the day, he's my favorite person in the room. And he's introduced me to the MG. :-)
My cats -- Alistair turned 10 this year. Gwendolyn will be 8. There's something to be said about the comfort a pet can give you.
My friends -- My real life friends and my online friends are a wonderful lot. As I get older, relationships change, but I'm glad for the people who touch my life regularly. And I'm happy about all the babies this year.
Possibilities -- I still have the ability to be anyone I want. And that's cool.
I think that's it for now. I can never really allow myself to stay in this mode for long. I end up feeling like I'm one "blessing" or "thankful" away from a dream journal and an Indian dreamcatcher in one window, with Carol King playing in the background. Plus, I'm starving and we are leaving soon for the annual gorge-fest. Have a happy one, folks!